Friday 20 October 2017

Spurs boss Pochettino refuses to rule out move to take over at Barcelona

Mauricio Pochettino has a long association with Barcelona's city rivals Espanyol
Mauricio Pochettino has a long association with Barcelona's city rivals Espanyol

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Mauricio Pochettino said today that it was perfectly “normal” for him to be linked with being the next manager of FC Barcelona, passing on the chance to rule himself out of taking the big job at the Nou Camp.

In January Pochettino was erroneously quoted as saying he was born “with a bull in his arms”, which was taken to mean he would not manage Barcelona, having played for and managed Espanyol.

Luis Enrique announced on Wednesday night that he would not be staying at Barcelona next season, prompting ferocious speculation about his replacement. Jorge Sampaoli and Ernesto Valverde are at the top of most likely lists, although Pochettino has also been mentioned, along with Ronald Koeman.

At his press conference this afternoon, reacting to the Barcelona vacancy, Pochettino clarified those old comments. He did not say “bull” but “ball”. It was not a reference to Espanyol, but to the fact that he understands how football works. It was not what it was initially sold as, a refusal to ever take the job Enrique is leaving.

“I know [football] very well,” Pochettino said. “I was born, not with a bull, but with a ball in my arms. Ball, not bull. When I was born, it is true, my mum and dad put a ball in my arms. It's a metaphorical example to say that I understand football, the business. I understand that my name will be on a list.”

Pochettino understands enough about football to know that he will now be linked with jobs like Barcelona. He said that it was natural for his record at Spurs to see him placed on the short-list for the prestigious role.

“I don't take it as [flattery],” Pochettino said. “I just understand that we are in one of the biggest clubs in Europe, because for me Tottenham is one of the biggest clubs. And you can see that we play very good football, we are an exciting team, with very good players.

"So it is normal that we have called the attention of the rest of the clubs, of football people around the world. We are one of the exciting teams to watch but I don't take it as flattery. Only that we are part of that business and our names always appear on the lists.”

Pochettino did not want to say too much linking himself to that big job. He is not one of the close favourites and, of course, signed a new contract at Tottenham less than one year ago. He is already planning for next season at Spurs and it would be a shock, to say the least, if he were not here in August.

“I don't want to speak because if you speak too much or if you speak, it's possible that people can twist my words,” Pochettino said. “I can only say that I am happy here. I understand the business and I can understand that my name is on some list. Like if I go and there appears some list of managers who are at other clubs. It's normal in football today.”

Independent News Service

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